This week, November 12 - 18, is celebrated throughout the world as World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Similar to previous years, the global theme is “Antibiotics: handle with care.” This year, however, the TCI has adopted an additional theme: “Think Twice, Seek Advice or Pay the Price”. It reflects the fact that antibiotics are a precious resource which should only be taken when needed and exactly as prescribed by a physician. When antibiotics are used incorrectly, for instance when they are used inappropriately to treat the common cold or when the full course is not taken, it can cause resistance. Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria change in such a way that antibiotics can no longer destroy them. Common infections will eventually start to become untreatable.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today. They warn that if something is not done the world will head towards “a post-antibiotic era in which common infections will once again kill.”
To combat antibiotic resistance, the Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Sports and Human Services (MoHASHS) has been working on a national action plan which will seek to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance, strengthen knowledge through surveillance and research, reduce the incidence of infection, improve the use of antimicrobial agents and develop an economic case for sustainable investment in new medicines, diagnostic tools, vaccines and other interventions. This is a very significant step on a national level to prevent antibiotic resistance.
The community also has an important role in preventing antibiotic resistance. The following actions can be taken:
· Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed by your doctor. That is, do not skip doses and ensure that you complete your course of treatment, even when you start feeling better.
· Only take antibiotics prescribed for you; do not share or use leftover antibiotics.
· Do not save antibiotics for the next illness, discard any leftover medication.
· Do not ask for antibiotics when your doctor thinks you do not need them.
This year, in commemoration of World Antibiotic Awareness Week, the MoHASHS in collaboration with the TCI Hospital has planned a number of events/activities. These include:
- Discussion on antimicrobial resistance on the November 12th airing of the MoHASHS Health Matters Radio show on RTC.
- Information booth at the TCI Hospital Cockburn Town Medical Center (Grand Turk) on Monday, November 12th, and Thursday, November 15th.
- Information booth at the TCI Hospital Cheshire Hall Medical Center (Providenciales) on Thursday, November 15th.
- Health Education on antibiotic use in primary health care clinics
In addition, local pharmacies will be participating in the week of activities by educating and counseling patients on antibiotic resistance.
For more information regarding antibiotic resistance please contact the MoHASHS on 338-5132 or 338- 3072.